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Friday, 16 January 2009


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I also saw that programme - or most of it anyway. Why isn't the BBC showing this stuff? It was eye-openingly wonderful television. Luvvie loather that I am I couldn't help but sit in admiration of the excellence of the acting and the insights of Barton and Hall. I was particularly struck (as was John Barton) by the brilliance of Kevin Kline's rendition of the Hamlet soliloquy.

Best of luck with King Lear - you'll need it!

"Why isn't the BBC showing this stuff?"

Mmm, good point. It seems fashionable to sneer at satellite TV as '57 channels and nothing on', but once you wade through the auction/shopping/holiday channels, there's some excellent documentary ones too.

Hello, 'Bongers'. John Barton did a marvellous series of workshops back in the early '80s, I think, for the BBC in which he worked with some of the top actors of the RSC. Simply superb and I blame him for me wasting the next 25 or so years trying, but never succeeding, to act and direct Shakespeare plays to his high standards. Don't hold you breath for the 'King Lear', I'm not at all sure it will happen.

Julia, you are quite right, there is some gold to be found in those obscure channels. Certainly Sky Arts 1 & 2 are worth keeping an eye open for.


I'm not surprised that the BBC did some excellent stuff involving Barton back in the 80s: I lament that the BBC does so little similarly excellent stuff these days - particularly since it's the only organisation which can afford it. But there again I'm old-fashioned when it comes to broadcasting.

I loved the A J P Taylor half-hour unscripted lectures to camera although some of his views could best be described as eccentric. I was also a devotee of "Any Questions" when Freddy Grisewood was in the chair although the ban on discussing matters which were to be debated in Parliament within the next 14(?) days was patently ridiculous. There is, I suppose, Radio 3 but there's too much "world music" for my taste. Even so, it still (just) has the beating of Classic FM's combination of up-market musak and inane/incessant chatter.

Oh dear, 'Bongers', we're in danger of showing our ages! I remember all those programmes. The other one who used to give unscripted talks that lasted precisely half an hour was General Hackett. In fact, I try to use his technique with the talks I give in which I practice saying what I need to say so that the gist is in the back of my mind but I'm not word perfect. All I have in front of me are bullet-headings to remind me. It makes the talks appear to be more spontaneous.

I, too, have never really got on with Radio 3 but I must leap to the defence of Classic FM. Sometimes one is too busy to sit and listen to an entire symphony and Classic FM is an ideal background. Let me recommend it, via a Sony Walkman, as an ideal companion whilst working in the garden. You will amuse the neighbours as you suddenly begin to conduct an imaginary orchestra like that madman in "EGBDF" - see above.

Re your talks: I agree there's nothing worse than being read to by someone who should be talking to you. This bears some relation to the beginning of this thread in that the actor must involve the audience: that a soliloquy is not an excuse for the actor to speak to himself. I'm always amazed (and utterly bored, no matter what the subject) at Powerpoint presentations where the lecturer reads from the screen or worse, reads from notes issued to his audience at the beginning of the lecture.

I won't argue with you re Classic FM and gardening but as my late father used to tell me (and I see no reason to disagree with him): listening to only one movement of a symphony is like walking out on your girl-friend just when she was down to her bra and panties ie it's nice as far as it goes but only the complete work really satisfies.

Your father made a shrewd point!

I don't use Powerpoint - only because I haven't mastered it on this computer 'thingie' plus the fear of 'Paddy's Law'. I have an easel with some essential maps, etc, pre-drawn which I cover up when not needed because I work on the 'me-me' principle, that is, the audience should be concentrating on me not pretty pictures! Dreadful old luvvie tart, that I am!

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